News / Asia

China Puts Former Security Chief Under House Arrest

FILE - Then China's Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang.
FILE - Then China's Public Security Minister Zhou Yongkang.
Reuters
China has put Zhou Yongkang, one of the most powerful politicians of the last decade, under virtual house arrest while the ruling Communist Party investigates accusations of corruption against him, several sources said on Wednesday.

Zhou is the most senior official to be ensnared in a graft scandal since the Communists came to power in 1949. He was the domestic security tsar and a member of the party's Politburo Standing Committee - the pinnacle of power in the country - when he retired last year.

Chinese President Xi Jinping ordered a special task force formed in late November or early December to look into several  accusations brought against Zhou by political rivals, sources with ties to the leadership told Reuters, requesting anonymity to avoid repercussions for discussing secretive elite politics.

“Zhou Yongkang's freedom has been restricted. His movements have been monitored,” one source said, adding that he cannot leave his Beijing home or receive guests with prior approval.

Zhou is being investigated for violating party discipline, official jargon for corruption, the sources said. They did not say what the specific allegations were.

Xi was installed as head of the party just over a year ago, and as president in March, and the investigation illustrates his growing power and confidence that he can manage any rift that may ensue.

In ordering the investigation, Xi has broken with an unwritten understanding that members of the Standing Committee will not be investigated after retirement.

But Xi has yet to decide whether Zhou would be publicly prosecuted, pending completion of the internal probe, the sources said. Xi has declared war on corruption, vowing to go after powerful “tigers” like Zhou as well as lowly “flies”.

“Xi has pulled out all the tiger's teeth,” a second source said, referring to the downfall of Zhou's men, including Jiang Jiemin, who was the top regulator of state-owned enterprises for just five months until September when state media said he was put under investigation for “serious discipline violations”.

Jiang was previously chairman of state-owned China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) - Zhou Yongkang's power base - as well as one of its subsidiaries, oil-and-gas behemoth PetroChina . Zhou served as CNPC's general manager from 1996-1998, having risen through the ranks.

“Zhou Yongkang is a toothless tiger and tantamount to a dead tiger. The question is: will Xi skin the tiger?” the source said, referring to a trial.

Political analysts say such an indictment and a trial would instill fear in other retired leaders and the party's 80 million members, worsening infighting among rival political factions.

Jonathan Fenby, director of China research at analyst group Trusted Sources, said any form of public trial of Zhou would be “potential for embarrassment ... given his long tenure at the top”.

The Chinese government has neither confirmed nor denied Chinese-language media reports in Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States that Zhou has been arrested on charges of corruption and other crimes.

Zhou and his family could not be reached for comment. It is not clear if they have lawyers.

The cabinet spokesman's office, which doubles as the party's public affairs office, did not respond to a request for comment.

Linked to Bo Xilai

Zhou was a patron of the once high-flying politician Bo Xilai, who was jailed for life in September for corruption and abuse of power - the worst political scandal since the 1976 downfall of the Gang of Four at the end of the Cultural Revolution.

“Xi Jinping and [Premier] Li Keqiang hate Zhou Yongkang as he was the only standing committee member who opposed ousting Bo Xilai. They are gunning for Zhou,” said a source who has ties to the military.

Bo's career was stopped short last year by the attempted defection of his estranged police chief who implicated Bo's wife in the murder of a British businessman over a business dispute. Bo's wife and his former police chief have been convicted and jailed.

“Zhou's men have been sidelined,” another source said.

“The Central Commission of Political Science and Law has been cleansed of Zhou's men,” the source said, referring to the powerful party body once headed by Zhou that oversees the police force, the civilian intelligence apparatus, judges, prosecutors and paramilitary police.

The movements of Zhou's eldest son, Zhou Bin, have also been restricted while he helps with the corruption investigation that has implicated Jiang, the regulator of state-owned enterprises.

The elder Zhou retired as domestic security tsar and from the standing committee during a sweeping leadership reshuffle last year. During his five-year watch, government spending on domestic security exceeded the defense budget.

He was last seen at an alumni celebration at the China University of Petroleum on Oct. 1.

He was also among party leaders who offered condolences or sent flowers to the family of a respected educator who died last month, state media reported on Nov. 26.

Hong Kong's South China Morning Post newspaper reported in late August that the leadership had agreed to open a corruption investigation into Zhou.

But sources with ties to the leadership told Reuters at the time that Zhou was merely helping authorities with the investigation into state energy companies and, contrary to media reports, was not the target then.

That changed after Xi ruled that no one was above the law.

Zhao Hongzhu, one of the party's top anti-corruption officials, declared in October that anyone who violated party discipline or broke the law would be punished “regardless of who it involved, how much power he has or how high his position is.”

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ebola Lockdown May Be Extended

Lockdown, which started Friday, aims to allow health workers to locate hidden Ebola patients, educate others on how to avoid the deadly disease More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid